Ghana now has the highest number of four-star laboratories in Africa that had been certified by the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM).
This means that out of the total of nine ASLM certified laboratories in Africa, Ghana owns five of these. By this achievement, the country's laboratory has the potential of entering the top tier of Africa's most reliable labs.
These laboratories include the Eastern Regional Hospital Laboratory in Koforidua, the Central Medical Laboratory in Korle-Bu, and the Kintampo Health Research Centre Clinical Laboratory.
The rest are the Public Health Laboratory in Tamale and the Upper West Regional Hospital in Wa.
Laboratory accreditation schemes assess laboratories in accordance with accepted standards, providing external validation that assures that laboratory services are accurate, traceable and reproducible.
A well-attained and reliable laboratory system also helps generate information critical to individual case management and to disease surveillance, control and education.
At a ceremony to present awards and certificates to various individuals and laboratory centres whose capacity had been built over a five year period, Ms Carolyn Pat Alsup, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Accra said Ghana could become the most improved country in terms of labs accreditation since the inception of the capacity building programme in Africa some five years ago.
The awardees, included over 60 laboratory professionals and 16 public sector laboratories at the national and regional levels. The laboratory professionals underwent training in a programme dubbed, 'Strengthening Laboratory Management towards Accreditation' (SLMTA) and the 'Stepwise Laboratory Quality Improvement Process Towards Accreditation' (SLIPTA).
The training equipped the professionals with the capacity to perform to deliver quality laboratory services, which support optimal patient care.
Ms Alsup explains that the training falls under the Strengthening Laboratory and Diagnostic Capacity, a priority of the US government under Presidents Obama's 'President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Ghana and the US Government signed a Cooperative Agreement in 2010 that allowed the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to build capacities of the laboratories and lab staff to help improve patient care and treatment and improved accuracy and timeliness of diagnosis, rates of cures and disease prevention, especially in HIV and AIDS.
Ms Alsup urged Ghana to demonstrate its commitment to first class labs and associated improvement in overall health care delivery by prioritizing funding for strengthening the national laboratory system.
She said the US government on its part; intend to continue its support for strengthening HIV diagnosis by supporting a National Quality Assurance Programme for HIV Testing, while improving access to clinical testing for HIV patients.
Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, Director-General of GHS, said Ghana would sustain the gains of the projects while working to increase the numbers to cover all other state laboratories in the regions in 'our effort to have in place a well-established disease surveillance system in the Country'.